At a time when the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has cancelled tours and limited the record store experience to curbside pickup, fans need a fun album filled with positive messages and meaningful, well-written songs. Enter Lilly Hiatt's Walking Proof (out March 27 via New West Records), the follow-up to her breakthrough 2017 album Trinity Lane.
While this isn't the ideal time for an artist's fourth album to hit stores and streaming services, Hiatt finds some peace in sharing these songs now, despite the indefinite pause on touring and other promotional opportunities.
"Everybody's having to recalibrate, so I almost see it as a beautiful time to just let the album go and let it into the world and unfold the way it's going to," she says.
Like many of her Nashville peers, Hiatt, the daughter of singer-songwriter John Hiatt, sees no need to pick between digging deeper to her country roots or breathing life into what's left of melodic rock 'n' roll.
"There's a part of my spirit that I think is pretty punk rock," she says. "I'm sure people would roll their eyes at me saying that, but I don't care. There's part of me that's very country, and there's part of me that feels a lot of different ways."
Fortunately, there's an audience that isn't phased if Hiatt stays original and never chooses an arbitrary side.
"That's the beauty of Americana, I suppose," Hiatt adds. "That's definitely a term I've just embraced, and why not? Americana, whatever that means, has always welcomed me as open arms, so I'll take it. I'll be happy to be identified as that."
For her new album, Hiatt wrote songs over time, with a handful of new tracks penned on the road. She then hit the studio with her band and producer Lincoln Parish, a former Cage the Elephant guitarist, as well as a trio of special guests: John Hiatt, Aaron Lee Tasjan and Amanda Shires.
"I had more of a spread out time period to make the record," Hiatt says. "Trinity Lane, we just banged that out, and it was awesome. But I also love how we made Walking Proof, which was in waves of time. I think there was a frenzy to the Trinity Lane creative process, and this one felt more like a release, in a way, of 'Here it is! I've got these songs, I'm going to record them with my band and the rest is history.'"
The end result suits troubled times, based on recurrent themes identified by Hiatt.
"On this record, the theme is friendship and love and relationships," she adds. "There are a lot of different ones brought up on this record, and there's a lot of love for pretty much everybody that's in the cast."
Hiatt hopes this positivity makes at least some small change in the lives of people either stuck at home or bravely providing essential services.
"If my record can be any sort of solace in this time, I feel like my mission is accomplished," she says. "I want nothing more than for it to evoke emotions that are powerful for people. And it's an uplifting record, in my opinion. There's some sorrow on there, as always, but I hope it's something for folks to grab onto."
Walking Proof Track Listing
"Some Kind Of Drug"
"Never Play Guitar"